Movie Review – A Silent Voice

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Kyoto Animation

Last year, Makato Shinkai’s Your Name took the world by storm.  I have already reviewed this film and I will go on the record as describing it as a masterpiece.  There was one downside of this worldwide frenzy though; another anime film that was just as a good managed to get eclipsed by Your Name.  This is an adaptation of a manga that I absolutely loved.  A manga that deals with some very serious issues that was emotionally devastating to read.  I’m talking about A Silent Voice.  This film adaptation by Kyoto Animation manages to present one of the most beautiful anime films of all time from both a story and production perspective.

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Story and Characters

I will not spoil any of the latter elements of the story arc, but for the sake of discussing the story, it is necessary to provide some background.  The plot follows Shoya Ishida through his reunion with a deaf student named Shoko Nishimiya.  In his elementary school years, Ishida was one of the main perpetrators in bullying Shoko to the point where she had to transfer schools just to get away.  With Shoko gone, the rest of the class soon shifts its attention to Ishida, making him the new bullying target.  Ishida is ostracized to the point where he lacks any sort of friend even when he reaches high school.  Because of this, Ishida becomes suicidal, but desires to atone for his past actions.  He manages to find Shoko, seeking to form a friendship with her to make up for his horrible treatment of her.

At its core, A Silent Voice is a story that is all about redemption.  There is no apologizing for Ishida’s actions.  Every character acknowledges that he did some terrible things and he even feels like his life after Shoko was almost a karmic like result of his horrible actions.  This makes Ishida’s character so interesting.  It’s rare to see an anime character know what they did was wrong and even that there is no changing what they did.  Watching Ishida move forward from the past in order to help Shoko is a beautiful thing.  Shoko’s character is similarly just as layered.  From her variety of outbursts, to her portrayal as the victim, this film does an excellent job at showcasing her character.  The film largely focuses on these two characters and it is an emotional roller coaster.

It’s about presenting some serious topics that haven’t really been covered to this extent in the anime medium.  The story takes an in-depth look into suicide, depression, and bullying.  It can be very heavy at times.  However, I think that is where the inner beauty lies with the film.  It takes these topics and expertly presents them into a story that is emotionally captivating without being overdramatic.  Similarly, it does not make light of these issues and presents them with the seriousness that is required.  It would be very easy for the film to trivialize some of the more serious issues, but it does not fall into this trap.  The result is a story in which the characters grow significantly by the end of the film.  It presents the viewer with a watch that is uncomfortable, beautiful, heartwarming, and devastating.  It really is a perfect drama.

I want to briefly talk about the nature of the adaptation.  This film should be a textbook example of how to condense a longer manga series into one movie.  Of course, this does have some drawbacks.  The film largely excises the development of Ishida’s group of friends.  This has the effect of ignoring their bullying of Shoko during elementary school.  The film showcases this somewhat, but mostly puts Ishida as the main instigator.  In the manga, pretty much every other elementary school student was an absolutely deplorable piece of shit and not every character is redeemable.  The film also does not provide the background into Shoko’s home life and the circumstances of why her mother was raising the children by herself.  I feel like this would provide some much needed characterization of Shoko’s mother, but was not truly necessary in the grand scheme.  The story arcs not involving Ishida and Shoko were pretty much the ones that were cut.  Given that the main strength of the manga was this central plotline between Ishida and Shoko, the lack of these storylines is not detrimental to the overall plot of the film.

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Animation and Sound

Kyoto Animation presents one of the best looking films of the year.  Every frame of this film is breathtaking in every way.  The backgrounds are highly detailed and showcase a level of quality that is unbelievable at points.  The animation is just as a high a quality as every other aspect.  The characters move with a level of fluidity that manages to impress at every opportunity.  This level of animation was necessary to capture the sheer emotion of the story.  I was even impressed with watching the characters use sign language. The character expressions are also highly detailed.  Seriously, any shot that is a close up on a face is likely to impress.  Any time a character cries, the facial animation just exudes the emotion.  The stylistic choice of the manga to portray Ishida’s view of characters with X’s over their face is also used to perfection here.  I do not have a single negative thing to say about the animation and this does not make for an interesting review because I don’t have a lot to say other than this is truly a perfectly animated film.

The sound design also impresses to a similar degree.  Musically there isn’t anything that really stands out other than the opening montage featuring a song by The Who, but the tracks manage to exude the emotion needed for the more serious scenes.  The most impressive aspect lies with the voice acting.  Every character gives a great performance, but the voice actors for Ishida and Shoko deserve praise.  Shoko’s voice actress perfectly captures the sound of her voice as a result of her deafness.  This is powerful because when Shoko actually speaks out loud, the viewer is inclined to listen.  It also helps give a lot of legitimacy to the film.  Similarly, Ishida’s voice actor perfectly captures that mix between optimism and fear with regards to his interactions with Shoko.  Much like the animation, I don’t have any negative to say about the sound design.

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Final Thoughts

A Silent Voice is a perfect adaptation of a phenomenal manga.  I don’t have a single negative thing to say about this film.  The story is a perfect look at suicide, depression and bullying while also providing some necessary optimism with Ishida’s redemption.  It treats these topics seriously to form a powerful and emotional story that made me cry.  The film’s animation is perfect.  The voice acting is perfect.  It’s a beautiful film in every regard.  For that reason, I give A Silent Voice my Bananaowns’ Stamp of Approval.  If this ever gets licensed in the United States, I will be buying Blu-Ray, that’s how good it was.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

This review is over, but I had a couple more things to say.  This film deals with some very heavy themes and one of them presents an opportunity to say something.  A Silent Voice starts off with a look at Ishida’s contemplation of suicide because of his years’ worth of losing faith in humanity.  For those that are suffering through depression and contemplating suicide, I strongly urge you to seek out some help.  No matter how bad things get, there are always people that care about you and these people will be hurt in the event that the worst happens.  If anyone feels like no one cares or will listen, there is always someone who does and you can always seek help with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

This was relatively serious way to end this review, but given the subject matter, it felt appropriate.  Thanks for giving this review a look.

Series Review – I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Dream Creation

This will be a rather short review as this series is a short, but comedic anime.  I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying is an entertaining and heartfelt look into married life.  I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The story centers on the lives of Kaoru and her husband, Hajime.  Kaoru is a hard working professional while Hajime is an otaku.  The difference in their personality types creates a significant amount of comedy usually involving a variety of animation references.  Hajime’s otaku ways are strange, but rather endearing.  For a big fan of anime like me, these jokes usually land perfectly.  I ended up watching the entire series in one sitting because it was genuinely funny.  The series features a plethora of running gags that also manage to be hilarious.  My favorite involves the appearance of Hajime’s rather feminine looking brother.

I also enjoyed how charming this series manages to be.  At the end of the day, this show is about the everyday lives of a married couple.  Some moments are more serious than others, but the emphasis is on how these characters interact to get through the tough times.  It is from these glimpses of seriousness, that the audience can see how genuine the relationship between Hajime and Kaoru is.  With the comedy and adorable main relationship, the story of this anime does not disappoint.

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Animation and Sound

This is a rather short and comedic series.  The animation is not highly detailed, but is perfect in a stylistic sense.  The series is focused on comedy and the animation matches this tone.  The overall animation is very bright and cheery.  The characters are heavily exaggerated and stylized for an additional comedic effect.  The animation fits in perfectly with the comedic tone.

As for the sound design, the series excels with its voice acting.  The entire cast has a perfect awareness of comedic timing.  Seriously, every character manages to be funny in a unique way.  Kaoru and Hajime are especially great in the series overall.  The ending song is adorable.  The ending features Kaoru’s and Hajime’s voice actors singing.  This is the perfect way to end each episode.

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Final Thoughts

I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying is a hilarious and charming comedy that manages to impress on every level.  I give this series my Bananaown’s stamp of approval.  I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

 

The Drop Zone – Ace Attorney

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of A-1 Pictures

I’m Bananaowns and this is the Drop Zone, a series where I take a look at shows that I stopped watching.  It’s time to talk about Ace Attorney.

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I don’t exactly know who this show was made for.  Fans of the video game series were disappointed in the adaptation of the many cases and characters and those who were unfamiliar with the series had no idea what the hell was happening.  I am in the latter camp as I have never played an Ace Attorney game before.  I am a current law student which made a show about lawyers really stand out to me.

When I started watching, I was surprised in what I saw.  The show was relatively nonsensical to me.  I was impressed with the content of the initial cases.  Watching Phoenix Wright solve cases was enthralling at the start.  However, the craziness of the court scenes just began to wear this initial enthusiasm down very quickly.  This was not helped by the animation quality.  The animation was wooden and the backgrounds were bland.  I could have probably stuck around a bit longer if the presentation was better.

I just didn’t get the appeal of this series.  I feel like the intrinsic charm of the games was lost in translation to an animated series.  I made it six episodes before I decided that I did not want to watch this any further.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

The Drop Zone – Battery

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Zero-G

I’m Bananaowns and this is the Drop Zone, a series where I take a look at shows that I stopped watching.  It’s time to talk about Battery.

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This show had me extremely interested at the start.  I love baseball and I haven’t had a good baseball anime to watch in quite a bit of time.  To my surprise though, this show features one of the most arrogant main characters known to anime.  Takumi is arrogant and nothing about his character is endearing enough to make the audience care about him.  He’s the main freaking character of the show and I wanted to see him fail.

Adding on to this is the plethora of adult characters that manage to be just as awful.  So many adults want the kids to stop playing baseball to the point where I didn’t even make it past the halfway point of the season.  From the second episode, I was already getting annoyed with every adult on this show except for Takumi’s grandpa.  Even the baseball coaches are awful and engage in some conduct that is absolutely deplorable.  Nothing about this show’s plot is great.  Almost every character is frustrating to deal with and that’s why I dropped it.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

Series Review – Clannad

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Kyoto Animation

The show I am reviewing today is mostly lauded for its follow-up.  I haven’t watched Clannad: After Story yet, so this review will solely by about the first anime season.  Clannad started out as a typical harem series, but surprisingly turned emotional at various points.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The series stars Tomoya, a delinquent high school student.  One day, on his way to school he meets a girl named Nagisa.  From there, he quickly becomes acquainted with a variety of other girls that attend his high school.  After his meeting with Nagisa, he learns that she is repeating her last year of high school due to her absences caused by illness.  Nagisa desires to join the drama club, but since her absence, the club has disbanded.  Despite his delinquent nature, Tomoya decides to assist Nagisa in reforming the drama club.

Many of the initial storylines start with Tomoya seeking to recruit members for the drama club, but this initial premise quickly falls by the wayside for almost every story arc that does not feature Nagisa.  Instead, the story largely focuses on the other female characters.  The sequel Clannad: After Story is usually touted as the emotional powerhouse of the series, but I was surprised at how ridiculously emotional this simple harem series was.  Various storylines bring out intense emotion is often surprising ways.  For instance, Tomoya’s inability to play basketball has a dark past to it.  The same can also be said for a girl in the school that loves to give out wooden starfish.  Every story arc has a significant amount of emotion and the series can be a rough watch at times because of it.  Given my feelings regarding this series, I cannot imagine how I will survive After Story.  While there is a lot of drama, it is fair to say that the show can be very comedic at times.  The comedy is largely based early on in each story arc, but is inserted in intervals.

As for the characters, Clannad is filled with a significant amount of great characters.  Tomoya is an interesting main protagonist.  Despite being a delinquent, he is one of the most helpful characters in the series.  While they are mostly used for comic relief, Nagisa’s parents even have a shocking amount of backstory to them.  Every character is similarly layered.  At first they exhibit some generic trait, but as the story arcs develop, the inner facets of the characters are put onto display.  Everyone has some sort of emotional trauma from a past event, and the series does an excellent job at using this past trauma in conjunction with present story arcs.

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Animation and Sound

The first aspect of the animation that is sure to raise some eyebrows is the character design.  For the male characters, the design is mostly normal.  However, the female characters have absolutely gigantic eyes.  This design choice has put off a lot of potential viewers and it is what prevented me from watching this series sooner.  I ended up getting used to the design and it actually grew on me.  So despite the gigantic bug eyes, give this series a chance.  As for the rest of the animation, there really isn’t anything that I would describe as special, it’s just solid.  There also isn’t anything too interesting about the setting as it mostly takes place at a high school which is an anime staple by this point.  It’s a solid level of quality though and there is nothing about the animation that I would consider to be detrimental.

The sound design for this series is solid as well.  Clannad: After Story supposedly has a standout musical track.  However, for this series, I did not notice any piece of music that really stood out to me.  The music is appropriate for the emotional scenes and does provide the necessary addition to makes these scenes even better.  The real strength of Clannad lies with the voice acting.  I love the performances of all the characters.  Tomoya has that perfect mix of humor and caring.  The voice actors for Nagisa’s parents turn in some excellent comedic performances.  The comedic timing is perfect in every scene that they are in.  Overall, the animation and sound design for this series is solid.

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Final Thoughts

I went into this show thinking it was just the necessary prerequisite in order to watch the greatness that is Clannad: After Story.  I was surprised to find a show that was highly emotional.  This was supposed to be the series that did not tug on the heartstrings.  I wasn’t supposed to cry until After Story, but that’s not what happened in the end.  I was brought to tears a few times in my watching of this series.  I give Clannad my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval.  I don’t know how I’ll survive the next one when I get to it, but there will definitely be a review of the sequel when my heart recovers from watching it.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

Movie Review – Kizumonogatari: Part 2

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Studio Shaft

The second movie of the ongoing Kizumonogatari adaptation was just released on home video in Japan which means that it is time to look at this one as well.  I have already covered the first movie in a previous review, which I recommend checking out.  Like the first review, there will be no rating attached to this review as this is merely one fraction of a story that spans three films.  With that said, I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

This movie picks up immediately after the events of the first one.  Araragi is now a vampire and has been tasked with recovering Kiss-Shot’s stolen body parts from a trio of vampire hunters.  The mysterious Oshino managed to work out a deal with the hunters in which each member will challenge Araragi to a solo duel.

The film mostly features the first two duels and ends relatively soon after the third one commences.  Unlike the first film, this one hits the ground running.  The basic plot setup was accomplished primarily in the first film, often with little dialogue.  Here, the strengths of the Monogatari series are shown in full force.  Hanekawa and Araragi have a plethora of more scenes that feature the same word play and conversation that characterizes this series.  This is the foundation for the pair’s later friendship in the rest of the series.

The vampire fights are the main draw here though as they take up the majority of the movie.  Araragi has a couple of fights that defy the senses with how brutal they are.  They also manage to expertly explore the extent of Araragi’s new powers as a vampire.  As the second film in the trilogy, the movie ends on a noticeable cliffhanger, but this is not an issue.  The adaptation is flawless and I cannot wait to watch the third movie.

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Animation and Sound Design

Nothing about this animation is different from the first movie.  The unreal animation quality is continued to be displayed here, albeit in a more interesting manner.  The first movie, while gorgeous, lacked action scenes to showcase what Shaft was really capable of animating.  The duels between Araragi and the vampire hunters are absolute masterpieces of animation.  Between the showcased brutality, the fluid movement, and the overall direction, these scenes are the best showcase of animation that I have seen since the last movie.  This movie could be watched solely for the animation alone.

I really do not have anything to say about the sound design, other than that it is great.  The high quality voice acting that the series is known for is finally given a chance to shine in this movie.  The sound design of the action scenes gives these scenes the necessary weight and impact.  I also highly enjoyed the music used as well.  It perfectly shifted between the light-hearted and more intense tones.

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Final Thoughts

Kizumonogatari: Nekketsu is the second part of what is likely to be considered to be a masterpiece.  The movie is excellent in every way, just like the first film.  The final part cannot come soon enough.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

Series Review – Izetta: The Last Witch

Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of Ajia-do Animation Works

I’ve already mentioned in past reviews that I am a sucker for any period pieces.  World War II is one of my favorite periods to explore in any medium.  The show I am reviewing today takes place in a fictional world heavily inspired by the events of WWII, but with a magical twist.  Of course, I’m talking about Izetta: The Last Witch.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The story starts with the Germanian empire, this world’s Nazi Germany, conquering the entire continent.  In order to have a better route, the Germanians seek to control the small country of Elystadt. Elystadt is ruled by a monarch that is loved by the people.  However, during peace talks, Princess Finé is kidnapped by the Germanians.  On this same plane, the Germanians are transporting a witch named Izetta, who happens to be a figure from Princess Finé’s past.  The pair manages to escape and Izetta vows to protect Elystadt from the Germanians.

Despite the presence of magic, this anime is mostly focused about war efforts.  The series places a significant amount of time on dealing with a wide variety of issues ranging from dealing with refugees to acts of espionage.  Izetta and the overall magical presence merely serve to aid in this total war effort.  While the use of magic was entertaining, I actually enjoyed the more subdued moments immensely.  For instance, a couple of episodes focus on the topic of propaganda and how to present Izetta to the rest of the world.  I also enjoyed the moments of espionage that saw agents going undercover to deal with foreign spies.  Details like this give the series a more weighted feel.  It was not only about the magical elements, but about the fate of a war.

The strength of the story is bolstered by the great cast of characters.  Princess Finé is one of the most impressive female leads in recent memory.  She is kind and caring, but also tough when the situation calls for it.  She is actually a great leader and is more than willing to put herself in danger for her kingdom.  For example, in the first episode alone, she resists every effort of Germania to kidnap her.  Finé never stops fighting even when the situation is at its most dire.  I also loved Izetta’s character.  She actually has a lot of doubts about her ability to protect Elystadt, but will do anything for the kingdom.  Izetta is also conflicted about using her powers for war, but her love of Finé triumphs all of this.  Speaking of love, there is an actually hint of a relationship here between Izetta and Finé.  It’s not just yuri-baiting like in Sound Euphonium; it goes a little bit deeper.  It was really refreshing because it felt genuine based on the interactions and history between Izetta and Finé.  Overall, this series had a solid story with a great cast of characters.

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Animation and Sound Design

Izetta: The Last Witch features a surprisingly high quality of action animation.  It is an absolute treat to watch a scene in which Izetta fights with her magical powers.  The animation captures the aerial dogfights to perfection.  It’s so great that it manages to overcome the absurdity that Izetta uses a sniper rifle as her witches’ broom.  The first major sequence that showcases Izetta’s powers gives a great example of how the action animation is.  Izetta sweeps across the battlefield with enchanted objects, taking out tanks and infantry.  It was and still is highly impressive to watch.

Outside of the action, the animation can look a bit mediocre.  However, it is saved by the excellent stylistic design of the characters and the environments.  The country of Elystadt is breathtaking to behold.  The animation really brings the bright cities and the countryside to life.  The characters also possess striking designs.  Princess Finé comes across as royal in any one of her outfits.  Izetta’s red mages outfit is also one of my favorite designs of the season.  The red outfit is a stereotypical witches outfit, but with a regal flair to it.

The sound design is of a similar quality as the animation.  There are high points, but for the most part it is fairly average.  The sounds of the machine guns, planes, and bombs are excellent.  In fact, the audio is great during any of the larger action scenes.  The opening song is actually quite good as well.  I also really enjoyed the use of choir-like music for the more fantastical and heartfelt moments.  Besides these moments though, the music didn’t really catch me.  The voice acting was excellent.  Princess Finé comes across as a proper, but loving monarch would.  The voice actors for the more clandestine characters also possess that mysterious edge as well. The presentation and sound design of this series has excellent moments, but has a lot of mediocrity too.

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Final Thoughts

Izetta: The Last Witch is a solid show with very some exquisite high points.  The main issue is that the series was fairly average during every other time.  However, the story is very strong and has a great cast of characters.  I believe this can carry the weaker points of the animation and sound design.  I give Izetta: The Last Witch my Watch rating.  It’s highly entertaining and worth the watch.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

Watch Rating

 

Series Review – Sound Euphonium Season 2

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Kyoto Animation

Second season reviews are kind of awkward to write.  Generally, the pros of the first season remain mostly the same and the cons are usually worked on.  As a result, a second season can feel very similar to the first, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  With that said, it’s time to check out the second season of Sound Euphonium.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The second season features the same likeable high school band as they compete to win a spot in the national competition.  Everything that was great about the first season returns in some sort here.  The dynamic between Kumiko and Reina is just as great as the first season with the yuri-shippers having a field day as always.  I actually am tired of this ship though, due to the fandom’s tendency to cast hatred on poor Shuichi for even attempting to talk to Kumiko.  That aside, the relationship between the main characters is as solid as ever.  I also enjoyed the exploration into backgrounds of characters that were prominently featured in the first season.  The motivations of Taki-sensei are revealed in this season in a surprisingly emotional moment.

Much like the first season, the drama from this one little band manages to create some compelling story arcs.  The first arc involving a band member that quit last year is relatively weak though in comparison to the main plot threads of the season.  The biggest change is Kumiko’s direct involvement in the drama now.  Last season, she just happened to be in place as issues were resolved, but now she is actually the target of the drama.  Between the story arcs involving Kumiko’s sister and Asuka, Kumiko is actually impacted by all this drama.  Of course she still maintains her very blunt personality which is a plus, but her character manages to become more genuine as the season progresses.

I really don’t have much to say because this second season is just more of the same.  Given my love of the first season, that is not detrimental in any way whatsoever.  Chances are if you enjoyed the story of the first season, then this one will be highly enjoyable as well.

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Animation and Sound

The presentation and sound design for this series maintains its excellent quality.  The animation is flat out perfect.  The backgrounds are highly detailed and the moving animation of the characters is unreal.  It is a treat to watch the animation anytime the band plays.  The standout sequence of this season is the full band performance.  This scene was absolute perfection and was one of the best sequences of the entire year.  Of course, the series also maintains its astounding use of facial expression, showcasing the best cute girl animation of the season yet again.

The sound design is great for this series as well.  Like with the last season, a show about a concert band needs to have great sound design.  The characters play a great selection of music, especially during that band scene that I mentioned above.  The instruments still sound great and the sound design in the band scenes impresses yet again.  The voice acting also maintains its charm.  Again, the highlight is the performance of Kumiko’s voice actress.  There is just something so inherently real about the way Kumiko talks and the actress captures this sarcastic tone perfectly.  Given that Kumiko is actually the subject of some emotional scenes now, the voice actress needed to explore a new side of the character.  Thankfully, she managed to pull of these emotional scenes to perfection.

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Final Thoughts

The second season of Sound Euphonium is the perfect follow up.  The story brings the band drama, but the new focus on Kumiko directly makes it a lot stronger.  The animation and sound design is still amazing as well.  I give season 2 of Sound Euphonium my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval.  I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

Series Review – Drifters

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Hood Drifters Studio

I am an avid fan of history which is one of the reasons why the Fate series interests me.  Some of the characters in Fate are mythical, but there are a significant amount based on actual historical figures.  When I heard of Drifters, I was excited to see a show that solely focused on the historical figures.  Drifters was the best action show of the season.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The series opens with a battle in ancient Japan.  Shimazu Toyohisa is critically wounded, but is suddenly transported into a mysterious corridor.  A man wearing glasses waits at a desk and sends Toyohisa through a door into another world.  Toyohisa soon meets other warriors called Drifters from various eras that have also been sent to this world.  The Drifters soon hatch a plan to conquer a nearby kingdom, but are quickly drawn into a fight with another group of mysterious beings known as the Ends.  Led by the Black King, the Ends seek to annihilate the entire world.

Drifters features a wide cast of historical characters ranging from Hannibal Barca to Nobunaga.  Each one of these characters is interesting in their own way and each brings with them the mindset of the era in which they lived in.  For instance, Toyohisa was born in a rather war-torn period which means that his mind is almost entirely focused on winning wars.  The interaction between these historical figures is the driving force behind the show.  It is inherently interesting to see the skills and training each warrior can bring from their respective era.  Hannibal Barca brings his renowned tactical mind, while other characters like Butch Cassidy bring knowledge of the technology of their era.

Nobunaga is my favorite character of the bunch due to his devious nature.  He is responsible for a large portion of the comedy in this series.  Drifters at times can be very schizophrenic with its tone.  Certain scenes are very serious, but quickly lead into more hysterical moments.  Anyways, Nobunaga perfectly encapsulates what it would mean for a historical figure to have access to better technology.  Out of all the characters, he is the quickest to adapt to the changing situation and the only one to really appreciate the tactical advantages of this new situation.  It is thrilling to see Nobunaga use new technology to his advantage and this makes the larger action scenes a joy to watch.  The story is still ongoing at the end of the season, but with its mixture of comedy and action, the story of Drifters is highly entertaining.

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Animation and Sound Design

Drifters features an impressive display of animation.  The more comedic scenes have a stylized look about them that is rather plain, but really works with the lighter tone.  Of course, the main draw is the action.  The choreography of this show is nothing short of amazing.  Each character has their own fighting style and the fights are highly entertaining because of this.  One character fights exclusively with a bow, while another keeps solely to firearms.  My personal favorite is any scene involving Toyohisa.  His fight scenes are so impressive with his character’s almost crazy tenacity for battle.  Toyohisa jumps all over the place and actually manages to be quite cunning despite his rather straightforward plan of attack at times.  The animation for this series is its strongest point.

As for the sound design, Drifters also excels.  The voice acting is a bit over the top at points, but given the tone of the series, this level of acting works very well.  The music is also solid, especially during the action scenes.  My personal favorite piece of music is the catchy opening.  The opening is just filled with so much energy that it is the perfect way to being each episode of the series.  Overall, the presentation and sound design of Drifters is great.

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Final Thoughts

Drifters was one of the best shows of the season.  The show captured the perfect mix of action and comedy.  It will be a long time before the next season, but the manga is still ongoing.  I give Drifters my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval.  I cannot wait for the next season.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

Series Review – New Game

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Doga Koba

I am not a fan of slice-of-life shows.  I prefer something with a solid plot and hopefully some action.  However, I did fall in love with one of these shows in the summer season.  New Game focused on a group of cute girls working on a video game and the antics of this group were highly entertaining to watch.  I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

Aoba Suzukaze is a recent high school graduate that has just been hired by a local video game developer named Eagle Jump, as a part of the art department.  She is a very big fan of the game series known as Fairies Story and it turns out her superior at the company was the character designer for this video game series.  As Aoba learns the ropes, she becomes acquainted with the female employees at Eagle Jump and they get into all sorts of wacky shenanigans.

This series will inevitably get compared to Shirobako.  However, while it does go into some game design basics, it never goes into the same level of detail as Shirobako.  Problems with development are addressed, but they are not the main focus of the series.  New Game focuses solely on the characters.  From Rin’s habit of sleeping in her underwear to Hifumi’s love of her pet hedgehog, each character has their own interesting quirk that makes for a highly enjoyable comedy series.  At the basic level this is a show about cute girls just having a good time.  As a result, it is mostly comedic in nature.  Luckily, the show is great at putting the characters into situations where comedy can arise.  For instance, a lot of comedy arises at seeing the characters attend an after work drinking session.  It’s moments like these that showcase the charm of this series, which makes for a great watch.

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Animation and Sound  

The animation matches the comedic nature of the series with its bright aesthetic.  Each frame of animation carries the cheery tone of the series perfectly.  The animation quality is actually really high for a slice-of-life series.  There are several moments where I was actually amazed at the animation quality.  These moments managed to surpass the typical laziness that I usually associate with this genre.  The character design is one of the strongest aspects of the series.  Each character has a striking design and multiple outfits that they wear throughout the series.  For instance, Rin usually is in jeans, but will move to a skirt in a variety of episodes.  It can get tiring seeing the same outfit over and over again and the changing wardrobe in this show was refreshing.  Based on my earlier comments, it’s quite apparent that I really enjoyed Hifumi’s character.  The animation along with her interesting character design captures her shy personality to perfection.

The sound design isn’t really anything special though.  The opening and ending songs are rather generic and the series itself does not have any memorable music either.  As for the voice acting, each member of the cast does an excellent job, but the nature of some characters is generic as well.  There’s the hyperactive one, the serious one, and the shy one.  There’s nothing bad about these performances, it’s just that there is nothing that really makes them stand out compared to the glut of shows in this genre.  The sound design is the weakest part of the series.

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Final Thoughts

New Game was an absolute delight to watch.  I was highly entertained by the quirky cast of characters.  In a season with some rather heavy shows, New Game was the perfect way to just relax and have a laugh.  I give New Game my Watch rating.  It’s not a perfect show, but I can simply describe it as fun, which makes it worth a watch.  Thanks for checking this piece out and come back next week for another review.

Watch Rating